Public hearing scheduled for Horst CAFO
ELKTON — A controversial concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) with preliminary approval on the Horst Farm in Zion will receive a public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 6 in the Cecil County Administration Building.
Galen Horst received preliminary approval from the Maryland Department for the Environment (MDE) for a poultry CAFO at the site roughly a year ago, prompting outcry from citizens in the area, who feared that the emissions would harm public health and that runoff would be an environmental hazard.
CAFO emissions include ammonia, which can be harmful to respiratory systems, but research in the field is undecided on whether CAFO emissions are concentrated enough to cause such harm.
In accordance with MDE’s public participation process, public hearings are held if a public comment is given on a CAFO’s preliminary approval within 20 days. If no comments are given, the status advances from preliminary to final approval.
If a public hearing is held, MDE can potentially make modifications to the designed plans. If MDE doesn’t make modifications, aggrieved parties can request a contested case hearing, in writing, within 15 calendar days.
“At this point, when we get to the point of a hearing, we are pretty sure that unless something new comes out in the hearings, that the farm will be in compliance,” said Hilary Miller, d
irector of MDE’s land management administration
. “And it’s already been through the county process.”
“We wouldn’t even get to a hearing if we thought there would be an issue,” she added.
An inconsistency in the site plan or a previously unknown issue with the site would be among the lone factors that would derail the process, Miller explained.
During a contested case hearing, the aggrieved parties are “limited to contesting the terms of the approved plans,” according to the Maryland Code.
“We’re pretty confident we can issue a permit,” Miller said.
The Horst Farm has also recently applied to develop a cattle CAFO with 150 animals at the same site on England Creamery Road. The deadline to request a public hearing on that project is Aug. 24 and the deadline for written comment is Sept. 3. Without comment, the preliminary approval becomes a final approval and the CAFO is registered.
Five other CAFOs in the county are registered or have a certificate of conformance.
ISE America has three poultry CAFOs in the Warwick area with a total of over 2 million animals. These three CAFOs were all approved in October 2015.
Kilby’s Inc. has a dairy cattle CAFO with 600 animals that was registered in October 2013.
The Meck Farm in Earleville has operated a poultry CAFO with 88,000 animals since it received its certificate in April 2016.
The Horst family has long run Zion Acres Farm, a dairy operation, on England Creamery Road, but is now looking to begin a large-scale, chicken-raising operation.